Bible Reading: Matthew 27:15-26
“Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!” (Matthew 27:22-23)
The story of the Israelite crowd is the story of our very lives. When we read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion again, where do we place ourselves? Often, we are too quick to protect our innocence and too quick to meditate on who we truly are. In reality, the Israelites who shouted, “let Him be crucified!” is exactly who we are.
Take time to ponder what sin really means. Sin is more than just lying or stealing. It is even more than murder or adultery. Sin, at its core, is a conscious rebellion against God. God, in His goodness, created us to live for Him and serve Him. In return, He promised us to give us all that we ever needed. That includes our joy and satisfaction and the contentment which we desperately long for. Yet, towards a good and loving God, we said no. To our Creator who knows us best, we said no. To the one who understands our needs the most, we said no.
The people of Israel in the Bible is an accurate representation of who we really are. Throughout the Old Testament, again and again, God rebuked and taught His people to trust in Him. Yet, again and again, they reject Him. God tells them of His promise and His covenant to send a saviour, yet they do not repent and continue in ignorance and rebellion against Him. Now, at the apex of God’s salvation plan, the Messiah comes. Yet even now, Israel rejects Him and choose Barabbas. When the Author of Life came to give salvation, the Israelite’s decided to put Him to death instead.
Israel’s heart and actions are mirrors of our own hearts and actions. In our hearts, there is a stubborn rebellion against God. Again and again, we choose the world above God. Again and again, we reject our Creator and the source of all good. And so with our actions. We run away from God. Whenever His truth pursues us, we put Him to death. We grasp onto anything this world has to offer to drown God out of the picture. We can never comprehend the extent of our rebellion against the Holy God.
Although this story points to the reality of our sins, it also points to a greater truth. The story of the Israelites throughout time points to the God of Israel who manifests and reveals His love to a broken and rebellious people. Above stubborn and stiff-necked people, there was a faithful and compassionate God. Despite their constant rejection and ignoring Him, He was actively holding and caring for them. He never forsook, He never lost heart. Even when they crucified His Son, He had a greater plan that through His death, the wrath of God would be appeased by the perfect sacrifice, and a door for regeneration was opened.
And so, above our sinful and rebellious hearts, there is the faithful and loving God. Despite our running away, God pursued us until He found us. He never forsakes, and He never will towards His children whom He has chosen. His greatest love was shown upon the cross. Christ, the Author of Life, willingly gave up that life in exchange for the wrath of God so that that life may be given unto us. We that were guilty, He justified. We that were broken, He gave a new heart. We who were dead in our rebellion, He gave life and joy in Him. The love of God, who can comprehend? Such is just a drop in the oceans of His love. Truly His love surpasses our knowledge and comprehension.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21)